Weekly Editorial

How Offices Help Attract Talent

Written By Rob Kirkbride, Write Office • February 13, 2023

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What comes first, a beautiful, high-performance office or an engaged, productive workforce? It is a question our industry thinks about all the time. And it isn’t far from the philosophical question: What comes first, the chicken or the egg?

So what does come first? Is a slick, super comfortable office needed to attract talent or do you need talent to create a cool office? It is hard to say, but a great office can certainly help attract and retain the best workforce.

Engagement is more important in a high-performance office than the coolness factor. While a stylish workplace can certainly wow a perspective employee, it can’t keep them engaged. So what we are really talking about here is creating an engaging workplace. Why is engagement so important? Because when an employee is engaged, they are productive.

A recent study of more than 600,000 researchers, entertainers, politicians and athletes found that high performers are 400% more productive than average ones. These high performers are the employees that companies so desire, which should come as no surprise. The late Steve Jobs summed up talent’s importance with this advice: “Go after the cream of the cream. A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”

That’s where we come in as an industry. We create the kind of engaging workplaces that high performers — the A+ players — want to work in. In a nutshell, that’s why our industry matters so much. Yet as an industry, it is a story we have trouble telling. Sometimes we don’t tell the story at all.

It can be difficult for our industry to explain to customers why what we do matters. So maybe we should simplify the conversation by using an example from the hospitality industry everyone can understand.

If I’m traveling and need a place to stay, there is a big, big difference between booking a room at a Motel 6 and a Ritz-Carlton. Both will provide a roof over your head. Staying in a Ritz-Carlton is a completely different experience. You might sleep better because the room has a better mattress and central air conditioning instead of the rattling unit stuck on the wall. A Ritz-Carlton is probably safer than a Motel 6. It has better amenities that will probably make you feel better about yourself too. The same is true for an office. You can build out a Motel 6 office and people will be able to work there. But will they like it? Will they be engaged?

Does anyone want to give their employees at Motel 6 experience? Probably not. They might not want to give them the Ritz either. But this example might help clients understand how high-performance offices differ from rows of desks and a hodgepodge of mismatched chairs.

While we can provide a space that will help attract and retain employees, whether that happens or not depends more on management than furniture. There’s only so much we can do. I’ve see a lot of great looking offices filled with people who would rather be anywhere else than working in them. You’ve seen the spaces — gorgeous offices, perfectly designed for collaboration and productivity that aren’t used properly because management hasn’t bought into the space and how it should be used. Not much we can do about that.

Research shows that a well-designed office can increase productivity by up to 20%. Creating an inviting, comfortable, safe and productive space, combined with management that helps workers thrive will help you and your customers develop an engaged workforce that will want to stick around. You can help your customers build an A-Team. So do it!

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